Although it's not a factory team event, it was hard not to notice the presence that the Kona team had at the 2013 BC Bike Race, fielding both of the top men and the top woman in the seven-stage epic race.
On the final day of racing in Whistler, American rider Spencer Paxson took the checkered flag after Erik Skovgaard Knudsen of Denmark overshot the last turn into the finish line. Kris Sneddon, his overall title not in doubt, held up at the finish line and waited patiently for Knudsen to pass before crossing the finish line in third to claim his second career BC Bike Race title. He also won the overall in 2011, and didn't race in 2012. The 2012 title went to Squamish's Neal Kindree.
Kindree's own story in the 2013 race came to an end on the sixth day of racing. He was less than two minutes back of Sneddon coming into a 50km course in Squamish, his own backyard, and set a blistering pace from the start that Sneddon said nearly broke him. But Kindree had come down with a stomach bug the previous day, got sicker overnight and was eventually forced to pull out.
Sneddon was happy with the win, but would rather have raced Kindree to the finish. "It feels good (to win), but it really sucks that Neal wasn't able to finish and that he had to pull out," he said. "He was riding really strong. I would have liked to beat him, of course, but beat him when he's fully good and healthy. I'm happy though, it's been a long time since I've won anything and it was time to get a win."
Sneddon's cumulative time over the seven stages was 15 hours, 40 minutes and 16 seconds, followed by fellow Kona rider Spencer Paxson in 15:57:39. Knudsen was third in 16:00:12.
Sneddon said it helped on the first day to have a team to ride with (Cory Wallace was also in the mix until a head injury on stage four) in a few sections here and there, including the sprint to the finish on the last day. However, he said the course has so much singletrack that team tactics were impossible for the most part.
His favourite day was Powell River, and a setup where the racers slept, started and finished on the beach. His hardest day was the hot first day in Cumberland.
"Cumberland was a pretty hard day, just a lot of climbing and not a lot of shade at the start, and the first quarter of Squamish was nuts," said Sneddon. "Neal attacked before he pulled out and I really thought that might be it for me, I was really struggling to stay with him."